If you haven't heard of this memoir, you've probably been under a rock the past few months. On April 4th, 2022, Jennette McCurdy took to Instagram to announce the release of her brand new memoir, "I'm Glad My Mom Died." At the time, the title seemed appalling out of context. It still does, but only because it's a bold statement. Since reading it, for her sake, I'm glad too.
The former "iCarly" and "Sam and Cat" star wasn't on my radar much after iCarly ended. I thought Sam and Cat was a silly show, even for Nickelodeon, and besides, I had aged out of the network at that point. So, when news of the memoir flooded my social media feeds, I was beyond curious. Who wouldn't be? I knew very little about McCurdy besides her role on one of my favorite TeenNicks shows. I remember hearing the news of her mom's death, though I admit I had not paid much attention to her outside of the show. Like most child actors, she seemed to disappear once her time on Nickelodeon ended. Her book brought to light why, which details the horrifying experiences she had growing up as a child actor at the hands of her mother.
McCurdy dives headfirst into her story by recalling her 6th birthday when she received a gift she didn't like or want but pretended for the sake of her mother and her mother's happiness. If you end the book there, it tells you exactly what you need to know about their relationship. McCurdy finds herself in this exact position regarding her mother for the rest of her young life until her death. That first chapter is just the start of the devastating reality that McCurdy faced throughout her childhood and early adult years.
A more haunting aspect of her memoir, aside from the grueling details of her mother's narcissism, is the narrative form that McCurdy utilized. It reads like fiction, though it is rooted in her actual and genuine trauma. Generally, memoirs reflect on experiences, but McCurdy's prose is in the present tense. In an interview with Vogue, she explained this was intentional: "I find a lot of humor in naivete and the point of view of a child, especially with the chaotic and abusive environments that I grew up in." It's an efficient approach because it allows the reader to better understand McCurdy mentally at each age. Though the humor was lost on me initially, I see how it was a coping mechanism for everything she went through by revisiting her past through the eyes of the younger versions of herself rather than poetically reflecting on it from her adult perspective.
The book also goes into aggressive specifics detailing McCurdy's anorexia and subsequent bulimia, which were introduced to her by her mother through calorie restriction. The way her mother controlled every aspect of her life, including the reproductive growth of her body, by encouraging unhealthy eating (or lack thereof) habits was heart-wrenching to read. It was an aspect of her mother's control that she struggled to let go of, and she could ultimately deal with her other traumas by going to a therapist for her issues with food. The eating disorder had an incredible hold on McCurdy, so it makes sense that she had to confront that issue first to gain perspective on all that her mother put her through to heal.
The reveal of the genuine friendship between McCurdy and her co-star, Miranda Cosgrove, is my favorite part of the memoir. It's a heartbreaking story, but knowing Cosgrove was a true friend is a shining light in this otherwise darkly humorous tale. Though McCurdy has recently stated their friendship has gone by the wayside due to life and being in your late 20s, it is refreshing to know a positive came out of the otherwise tragic experience. When you watch TV and see friendships portrayed on your favorite shows that seem real, it's comforting to find out they stem from actual off-screen relationships.
As a fan of stories in any format, McCurdy's ability to take the intimate, traumatic details of her life and turn them into a book with an ending of hope is inspiring. Finding your voice to speak up after a brutal childhood and using your platform to take ownership of the narrative speaks volumes to who McCurdy is and how it's shaped her. This could have had a more tragic, twisted ending, and though the story isn't over, McCurdy is clearly on her way to making a name for herself on her own terms.